Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Quantum of Shelter, Quantum of Solace

Sarah at the bow approaching Shelter Bay.

Shelter Bay, at the Atlantic end of the Panama canal, is where the James Bond film, Quantum of Solace, was made. We’ve been here for a few days now. Although Rumpus hasn’t moved an inch, we've made plenty of progress preparing for the Pacific. 

Getting here: leaving the San Blas islands, we stopped at Isla Linton: mangroves, a very new tiny marina and a floating bar where we had our 5th wedding anniversary dinner.
Isla Linton looks EXACTLY like the Thunderbirds base on Tracy Island.

A few hours’ motoring around the corner brought us to the Atlantic approach to the canal. 30 huge ships awaited their turn to transit the canal as we approached the breakwater, with dozens of cranes on the shoreline. 

For some reason I imagined Tintin and Captain Haddock on board this little one.

My favourite was this brilliant abomination called “Niccolo Machiavelli"

The USA leased the Canal Zone until 31 December 1999 so there are bunkers, munitions, battery buildings and forts all falling into disrepair with the jungle re-encroaching. Leafcutter ants criss-cross the pathways; monkeys howl and jewel butterflies decorate the undergrowth.

On our afternoon stroll up the hill from the marina

The old base theatre, converted into a sail loft with a cruisers' herb garden tended by April  - and  passing boats' names and artwork for good luck


Since Cuba, Sarah and Ryan have been feeling very unwell, with suspected giardia and nasty reactions to insect bites. After consulting their NZ doctor, who warned that giardia can recur even after treatment, they’ve decided that it would be unwise for them to continue with a 4000 mile ocean crossing.  They’ve gone to a hotel in Panama to try to recuperate. So we are looking for crew! Any volunteers or suggestions? (email

Making the best of things, we have been very busy on Rumpus. 

I took a bus trip with Annie and Liam to Panama City to the biggest grocery store I’ve ever seen. They were stocking up to cross the Pacific on their catamaran “Gone With the Wind”.
Their stamina and staggering quantities of provisions were truly impressive. Bulk buying at its best. 

The bus trip to Panama City from here includes a vehicle ferry across the canal, where you can see the huge bridge they’re constructing and the Panamax container ships transiting the 3 locks at this end of the canal. 


Meanwhile, back at the marina: 

Thorsen, the German engineer (who’s spent a few months in 
Whangarei) expertly fixed our rudder mounting issues: “As good as a bought one - sweet as” he declared Teutonically…

Mike Barker, a “1% er” (Bandito biker) and Kiwi rigging expert, gave us some sound advice on our spinnaker pole setup and shared his passion for bikes and boats…

and April, the wonder sailmaker, has fixed our trusty genoa with “a few more patches than we originally discussed…..”

April's sail loft
I’ve discovered the morning yoga sessions and we’ve enjoyed evening swims in the pool after hot sticky days of boat work. Most afternoons there are drenching thunderstorms so the decks are freshly sluiced and we’ve collected rain for the water tanks.  

And, like a good James Bond movie, there is an element of intrigue and suspense about when, how and with whom we will transit the Panama Canal. 

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